Perez-Somarriba Reaches Third Straight NCAA Sweet 16
By Alex Schwartz
ORLANDO, Fla. – For the third year in a row, Estela Perez-Somarriba of the University of Miami women’s tennis team is headed to the NCAA Singles Championship Sweet 16.
The junior posted a 6-2, 6-0 victory against No. 52 Katya Townsend of Texas A&M Tuesday evening at the USTA National Campus to join current Miami associate head coach Laura Vallverdu as the lone Hurricanes with three consecutive Sweet 16 berths.
Perez-Somarriba, who moved into a tie for third place on Miami’s NCAA Singles Championship wins list with eight such triumphs, will face No. 77 Paola Diaz-Delgado of VCU Wednesday at a to-be-determined time for a spot in the quarterfinals.
“I thought that this girl was a solid player. [She hit a] lot of deep balls, a lot of penetrating balls. Big forehand, big serve,” Miami head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews said. “Stela was able to counteract very well, able to penetrate, able to play the long points better and, once again, she was just relentless in moving through the match.”
After winning the first nine games in her Round of 64 matchup Monday against No. 36 Andie Daniell of Alabama, Perez-Somarriba took the first two versus Townsend. Her early streak stopped there, as the freshman responded with a pair of wins, both at deuce, to level the opening set at two.
From there, Perez-Somarriba dominated the rest of the way, taking each of the final 10 games to record the 6-2, 6-0 decision. The Madrid native lost three-plus points in just three of the 14 games and won back-to-back games at love in the second set.
“I think she was trying to pull the trigger a little bit too fast down the line. Townsend was leaving a lot of court open for her and Stela said she saw a lot of open court,” Yaroshuk-Tews said of the change after the fourth game. “Sometimes players have the ability to do that and then they force you to hit that line faster than you typically would go for it. Once she tweaked that, she was right back in gear, playing her patterns well and waiting for the attackable ball.”
Perez-Somarriba joins Vallverdu (2008-10) and Ronni Reis (1985-86, 1988) as the lone Miami players to earn three trips to the NCAA Singles Championship Sweet 16. In addition, she improves to 39-5 on the year, tying her own win total from 2017-18 for sixth place on the program’s single-season list and becoming the first Hurricane with two 39-win campaigns.
Along with Perez-Somarriba, Miami’s No. 13-ranked doubles duo of freshman Daevenia Achong and senior Daniella Roldan also competed Tuesday. Making their debuts in the NCAA individual championships, Achong and Roldan dropped a 6-7 (6-8), 2-6 result to No. 14 Martina Okalova and Vera Ploner of Tulsa.
Through the first 18 games of the match, neither pair took three in a row or built a two-game lead, as action tilted back and forth. Miami took a 3-2 edge in the first set and the sides then traded games, including Tulsa fighting off two set points at 5-4, until it went to a tiebreaker.
Once there, Achong and Roldan got off to a strong start by taking the first two points. They then upped their lead to both 4-1 and 5-2, but Okalova and Ploner won four straight points to take a 6-5 edge. Miami fought off the set point, but the Golden Hurricane won the next two points to take the opening set, 7-6 (8-6).
“I thought when we got up in the tiebreaker, we played a little too passive, made one bad decision with a serve and the match changed very fast,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “[That fast change is] typical of doubles at high level.”
The two sides split the first four games of the second set, three of which went to deuce, but Tulsa won out from there. After the first 18 games featured just two breaks, the Golden Hurricane earned a pair of breaks in the final three games and locked up the 7-6 (8-6), 6-2 victory.
Achong and Roldan became the 28th Miami pair to take part in the NCAA Doubles Championship, including the first since 2015. They were also the 36th and 37th different Hurricanes to compete in the event.
“It was a great season for both of them,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “I’m happy that Daev was able to experience the NCAA tournament as a freshman and Dani was able to see it as a senior.”
For more information on the NCAA championships, including schedules, brackets and live stats, visit the tournament homepage HERE.
NCAA Singles Championship Second Round
No. 1  Estela Perez-Somarriba (UM) def. No. 52 Katya Townsend (TAM), 6-2, 6-0
NCAA Doubles Championship First Round
No. 14 Martina Okalova/Vera Ploner (TUL) def. No. 13 Daevenia Achong/Daniella Roldan (UM), 7-6 (8-6), 6-2
NCAA Singles Championship Round of 16
Time TBD: No. 1  Estela Perez-Somarriba (UM) vs. No. 77 Paola Diaz-Delgado (VCU)